Dolls (1987)

My history with “Dolls” goes back to kindergarten, when I rented it because I was fascinated by the (amazing) video box art. Much to my surprise, the movie scared me beyond belief and has become a staple around Halloween in my adult life. From the first shots, with its iconography and extraordinarily effective, minimalist score, it’s clear that director Stuart Gordon is having a blast putting this little nightmarish fairy tale together. The atmosphere is oppressive, the set design is memorable, the special effects are charming, and the music is extremely eerie – but really, none of it would work if Gordon didn’t know how to properly use the dolls themselves as a weapon of fear, and luckily they’re absolutely terrifying. The acting is surprisingly strong, with Gordon managing to extract effective nuance from his small cast of characters, with the late Stephen Lee and the entertaining duo of Bunty Bailey and Cassie Stuart emerging as standouts.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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